Halls of Residence: proposed transfer of ownership: UPDATED

Issued: Wed, 13 Mar 2002 00:00:00 GMT

The March meeting of the University Court approved in principle a transfer of ownership of part of the University's halls of residence stock to a housing association.

The Court delegated powers to a seven strong committee of Court to take the final decision once all contractual arrangements are complete.

Under the proposal the University would work in partnership with the housing association to ensure the continued provision of high-quality reasonably-priced accommodation for students. The safeguards built into the agreement with the not-for-profit partner would ensure that the interests of students were fully protected in relation to levels of rent and the services offered.

Commenting in response to recent press inquiries, the Principal has stated: "It is a misrepresentation to describe this as privatisation. The housing association involved is a charitable organisation registered with the Housing Corporation and the Charity Commissioners."

Claims by some students that students would be driven out of the halls have been dismissed by the University as totally inaccurate and misleading: "The demand from University of Glasgow students will always have first priority in the halls.If at a future date there is surplus capacity, University of Glasgow students will not have to share accommodation blocks with non-students."

The properties involved in the proposed transfer are Cairncross House, Kelvinhaugh Gate, Kelvinhaugh Street, Murano Street, Queen Margaret Halls and Winton Drive. Other University Halls are not involved in the transfer.

University staff affected by the transfer will be covered by the provisions of TUPE - the statutory framework for the protection of employees' interests, covering such transfers of employment. Consultation, including meetings with employees and their representatives, have taken place regularly over recent months.

The proposed agreement will set out standards for the maintenance of the property and for the care and well-being of students. It is stressed that the existing system of wardens and deputies, hall governors and student representatives would remain and, most importantly, the University would continue to be responsible for the welfare and pastoral care of students.

The processing of applications and the allocations of rooms would be handled as at present by the Accommodation Service. The University's Conference & Visitor Service would continue to rent out rooms out of term time as at present.

Under the agreement, restrictions would be placed on future rent increases. Student rents in recent years have gone up in excess of the Retail Price Index (RPI) and would be expected to do so in future if existing University ownership continued. The proposed agreement would base normal increases on the RPI. A precise formula will be set out in the agreement.

Under the proposal the housing association would pay the University a capital sum in excess of £40M and take over the ownership of the buildings involved for a period of 30 years, collecting the rental income during that time. The University would use the capital sum to:

  • Finance the construction of the new £10M Queen Margaret Hall. (This means that loans will not have to be raised to pay for it)
  • Repay existing loans taken out in the past to construct Murano Street and other residences.
  • Create an endowment-style fund which will yield annual income for the benefit of the University.

At the end of the 30-year term the University would have the option of buying back the halls for a nominal sum.

This story was originally posted on this site on 14/02/02


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